Written by Morgan Mack
As the 2020 presidential election quickly approaches, casting your ballot has never been so confusing. Is mail-in voting safe? Is in person voting safer? If the president does not trust mail-in voting, why should I? Can I still vote in person if I prefer?
There is a great deal of misinformation being spread on social media about mail-in-voting. President Donald Trump spreads many of these falsehoods through Twitter, speeches, and interviews. How many of his claims actually hold water?
President Trump continuously argues that voter fraud will increase as a result of mail-in voting.
How often does voter fraud occur?
The Associated Press (AP) reports that in 2017, the Brennan Center for Justice ranked the risk of fraudulent voting by mail ballots at 0.00004% to 0.0009%, based on studies from past elections. Five states that regularly vote by mail, Colorado, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Hawaii, have reported no major fraudulent activity or difficulty counting votes.
Moreover, the AP explains, “Trying to influence a federal election through mail-in ballots would mean paying thousands of U.S. citizens, carefully selected in pivotal states, who are willing to conspire with a foreign government and risk detection and prosecution.” Mail-in voting fraud appears to be extremely far-fetched and detached from reality.
On Sep. 17, President Trump tweeted, “Unsolicited Ballots are uncontrollable, totally open to ELECTION INTERFERENCE by foreign countries, and will lead to massive chaos and confusion!”
President Trump also claimed that 80 million ballots were being sent to people who did not request them. As of right now, there are 157.03 million registered voters in the U.S.
The fact checking team at Reuters theorizes that President Trump was referring to a New York Times article which experts theorized “[r]oughly 80 million mail ballots will flood election offices in the fall.”
The decisions of when and how to send out vote by mail ballots come down to state agencies. Every state is handling mail-in voting differently. Some states require voters to request ballots, whereas other states send the ballots to voters without a formal request. As of right now, only ten states are sending out proactive ballots to registered voters. Most states require voters to formally request a mail-in ballot.
Although proactive ballots are mailed out in certain states, measures are in place to ensure the validity of incoming ballots. Some of these measures include hand-marked paper ballots, signature verification, examining and processing ballots in a timely manner, and security cameras during storage.
Why is President Trump Opposed to Mail-In Voting?
President Trump has voted by mail, so why does he oppose the process? As it appears, President Trump’s action can sometimes be self-serving. It is possible that President Trump fears that the results of mail-in voting will not benefit him.
It is very possible that President Trump worries that the higher voter turnout rate due to mail-in voting may place Republican candidates at a disadvantage. Therefore, President Trump continues to cast doubts on the validity of mail-in voting so in the event he loses the election, he can contest the results.
Does voting by mail benefit one party more than the other? Digitizing Politics explains that higher voter turnout results in “neutral partisan effects” meaning neither Republicans nor Democrats benefit significantly from mail-in voting. It is difficult to pinpoint an exact reason President Trump opposes voting by mail. We may never know the intentions behind his actions regarding his disdain for mail-in voting.
Mail-in voting proves to be a safe and effective way to participate in democracy. Voter fraud from mail-in voting rarely occurs. Various states practice mail-in voting every election without major fraudulent events. If anything, mail-in voting is beneficial to American democracy because it increases voter participation significantly.
Your vote has never been more important.
Do not let falsehoods regarding mail-in voting stop you from participating in democracy safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you wish, you may vote in person at your designated polling location.
Find your polling location by using the Polling Place Search tool.
It is not too late to register to vote. The registration deadline in Pennsylvania is October 19th for the November 3rd general election.
Fill out a voter registration application here.
Not sure if you are already registered to vote?
Check your voter registration status here.
How to Vote by-Mail
PA registered voters: Visit votesPA.com/ApplyMailBallot to request your mail-in ballot today.
Be sure to read the directions on the ballot carefully; if mistakes are made, you can request a new ballot if your ballot is still postmarked by 8pm on Election Day.
The earlier you send in your ballot the better!
Important Voting by Mail-in Ballot Deadlines for the November 3 General Election:
- Oct. 27– APPLICATIONS must be RECEIVED by your county election office by 5 p.m.
- Nov. 3 - Deadline for returning your mail-in ballot.
- By mail: Your mail-in ballot must be postmarked by 8 p.m. on Election Day and received by your county election office by 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 6 to be counted.
- In person: You must return your mail-in ballot to your county election office or other designated location by 8 p.m. on Election Day.
- Nov. 6 - Mail-in ballots (postmarked by 8 p.m. on Election Day) must be received by the county election office by 5 p.m.
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